Dubai-based venture capitalists rally behind customer-facing startups - GulfToday

Dubai-based venture capitalists rally behind customer-facing startups


Top officials at the event in Dubai.

Staff Reporter, Gulf Today

The UAE’s consistent efforts to fuel the entrepreneurial spirit in the country are beginning to bear fruit. As per MAGNiTT MENA H1 2021 Venture Investment Report, the region’s VC funding in H1-21 saw a 64% increase year-over-year. Notably, the UAE accounted for 61% of all MENA investments, in this period. This growth in investment flows during a period marked by a global economic downturn is commendable and an indication of UAE’s competitiveness. The UAE has sustained investors’ upbeat sentiment in the second half of the year too, if the latest investment activities in the UAE are an indication.

Yegertek, a Dubai-based customer engagement and loyalty tech startup, has raised an undisclosed sum from NB Ventures, at a post-money valuation of $6.25 million. Since its inception in 2017, Yegertek — German for “warrior” — has been developing and delivering data-led customer relationship management, e-commerce, and mobility solutions, by leveraging Microsoft CRM ecosystem, ML, AI, chatbots, and beacons, among other innovative technologies. Its clients include Harvey Nichols in Qatar; eCabs, a leading ride-hailing service in Malta; a leading casual dining restaurant chain in the GCC region; and a leading Dubai-headquartered jeweller. Yegertek’s funding also shines new light on investors’ affinity towards customer-centricity, which is incidentally the cornerstone of the upcoming Dubai Expo.

In predominantly service economies, customer-centricity is often the key strategic pillar of growth. In the UAE, policymakers have promoted customer-centricity across all economic sectors, from real estate to e-commerce to hospitality. This is exemplified by the Expo, which features visitor-facing digital channels, designed to offer personalized experiences, ticketing journeys, event guides, and information hubs. For example, visitors from around the world will receive tailored services - in real-time and in their mother tongues. Such customer-centricity is now increasingly evident in the business ecosystem too.

“Businesses are realizing the power of engaging effectively with loyal customers and employees, using appropriate digital tools that leverage state-of-the-art technologies. Yegertek is positioned to justify the faith of leading investors like NB Ventures, and the influx of this latest funding will catalyze the next phase of Yegertek’s growth within the region and beyond,” Sajid Azmi, Founder and CEO of Yegertek.

Led by serial investor Neelesh Bhatnagar, NB Ventures has a robust portfolio of digital-first, customer-facing businesses across geographies. NB Ventures’ portfolio includes India-based Bigspoon, Teabox, Webengage, and Sirona Hygiene; Canada’s KloveChef (IOK Labs); and UAE’s Clip the Deal, among others. “My association with the consumer electronics retail brand Emax gave me a hands-on understanding of the transformative influence that customer loyalty and engagement can have. The tech-enabled tools that Yegertek has developed allow businesses to maximize that impact. The reason behind us selecting Yegertek for funding is simple: We see their solution’s potential to dramatically empower growth across business verticals in the region,” said Neelesh Bhatnagar.

Irrespective of sectors, technology has emerged as the primary enabler of customer-centricity in the UAE. Businesses like Yegertek are increasingly leveraging AI analytics and ML to make end-user experiences as transparent, seamless, and satisfactory as possible. “Application of emerging tools technologies like Machine Learning, AI-driven analytics, chatbots, and Beacons, while keeping customers at the core of innovation, will help businesses expand and be more profitable in the MENA region, which is a key component of Yegertek’s growth strategy. For us, this is in line with the ‘Towards the Next 50’ directives by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai,” said Zain Shaikh, Co-Founder and Director of Yegertek.

Zain Shaikh’s cause for optimism stems from the UAE’s stance towards technology adoption and several entrepreneur-friendly initiatives. The launch of Dubai Next(3), an integrated crowdfunding digital platform to help startups achieve funding; several startup-related programs helmed as part of Dubai SME project(4); and five/ten-year entrepreneur visa programs(5) - with full-ownership and multi-entry options - are among the notable initiatives that attest to the country’s concrete actions towards enhancing the entrepreneurial ecosystem and fueling innovation. Needless to say, every initiative and program is anchored in technology.

“NB Ventures has always backed startups and companies that leverage technology to differentiate themselves. We see such innovators as particularly relevant in the new normal when accelerating economic growth is even more of a priority than usual. Investing in a Dubai-based startup with young and forward-thinking founders like Sajid and Zain was a no-brainer for us,” added Neelesh Bhatnagar.

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